Himalayan Wetlands Initiative

ICIMOD has a long history of working with the Himalayan wetlands that began in 1985 with the study of the Dig Tsho glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF), followed by research on glacial lakes in 1987 and glacial deposits in 1989 and efforts to set up a standard database on glaciers, glacial lakes, and GLOFs in the 1990s. Between 2002 and 2005, the database was digitized using remote sensing information and a geographical information system. Between 2005 and 2007, the approach was extended to include high altitude wetlands, resulting in the establishment of the Greater Himalayan Wetlands Information System – a computer-based database.

In order to enhance ecosystem services of the Himalayas like water storage, in 2009, ICIMOD initiated the Himalayan Wetlands Initiative (HWI) in collaboration with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Wetlands International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The overall goal of the inter-programme initiative is to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Himalayan wetlands in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, while the major objectives are to:

  • Provide leadership in the conservation of wetlands and their services in the HKH region;
  • Encourage policy research on high altitude wetlands;
  • Build the capacity of partners and stakeholders on the wise use of wetland resources; and
  • Promote collaboration and networking among institutions, organizations, and individuals engaged in the Himalayan wetlands.

Currently, the initiative is focusing on:

  • Supporting the contracting parties and partners in the implementation of the HWI Strategy;
  • Conducting action research on current issues related to livelihoods, culture, poverty reduction, and community resilience;
  • Organizing workshops, seminars, and meetings in the region to support communication and participation among stakeholders; and
  • Undertaking a special study on transboundary and high altitude wetlands, including rivers.